A VENTURE aimed at boosting business in Whitchurch is being promoted at a meeting of the Whitchurch Chamber of Trade and Commerce today.

The event at Hill Valley golf course will serve as an opportunity to explain the upcoming Business Improvement District (BID) application and what it might mean for businesses in the town.

The meeting has been organised by Chamber chairman Hilary Seward, who said it is a great opportunity to influence the commercial direction of the town.

“A BID is most importantly a business-led opportunity for local businesses to identify projects and areas or services in need of improvement in their town, which are again, very importantly, not covered by the local authority,” said Hilary.

“The normal process is for local businesses to form a group and look at the local needs, thus have a goal which they can explain to the whole business community to justify a levy on the business rate.

“This is done with the help and co-operation of the local council.

“We are as a chamber are lucky to have an interested and informed representative in Councillor Andy Hall.

“There needs to be a direction to move in, to garner the support of local businesses, who without a sense of ownership and purpose, could quite easily be resentful of the BID process if it is not clearly driven by a local need and targets for improvement to benefit those very businesses.

“The BID area needs to be identified. Is it the high street, town centre or within the bypass?

“This may take some negotiating and discussion.

“Once the zone is decided and that there may be topics worthy of funding, such as better signage in town, park wardens, etc.

“Then there is usually a feasibility study to see if the income for the designated BID.

“This is usually funded from a loan, possibly from Shropshire Council, which if the BID is successful is paid back. If not, it is written off.

“Even this part can be costly and take some time. The full BID process is very expensive and can take 18 months-plus to sort out.

“Most BIDs at some point involve due process and tendering to several professional organisations for their best proposals to assist in what is quite a complicated, time consuming and expensive project.

“The BID process must involve all businesses in the designated area who must understand the process of voting and the potential cost benefit implication. Without this involvement, BIDs fail.”

n The meeting will be held at Hill Valley Golf Course today from 4pm until 7pm.